Obamacare: How Effective?

When the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, most Democrats in Congress — nearly all of whom supported the law — predicted that it would lead to an expansion in health insurance coverage, more affordable insurance premiums, and greater access to needed health care and prescription drugs. Many Congressional Republicans, on the other hand — all of whom opposed the law — predicted that it would lead to widespread loss of health insurance coverage, soaring premiums, and less access to care.

The law has now been in full effect for over a year and a half — since health insurance coverage from state and federal exchanges began in January 2014. While that’s not long enough to evaluate the long-term sustainability of the law, it is long enough to evaluate its immediate impact. So what has the law accomplished?


Researchers sought to answer this question in a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year. Using a daily national phone-based survey — the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index — that covered over 500,000 adults ages 18–64 during the study period, the researchers looked for differences between the period of January 2012 through September 2013 (before the insurance exchanges) and January 2014 through March 2015 (after coverage from the exchanges began). As noted in a Reuters article on the study, by the end of the study period in March, Americans were reporting significantly better health and access to care than before the law went into full effect.

According to the Reuters article, the study found that in the period leading up to the first open enrollment for the insurance exchanges, trends were getting worse in the areas of insurance coverage, access to primary care and prescription drugs, affordability of health care, and overall health. The health-care law reversed these trends, and then some: About 15.8 million adults gained insurance coverage under the law, based on a statistical analysis of the survey results. Furthermore, about 11 million more adults now say that health care is affordable, about 6.8 million more say they’re in very good or excellent health, and about 4.8 million more say they can afford medicine. While the largest improvements were seen in racial and ethnic minorities — especially Latinos — all racial and ethnic groups saw improvements.

The study also found that in states that chose to expand their Medicaid insurance programs under the law to include all adults up to 138% of the federal poverty line (about half the states did this), low-income adults saw improvements in access to care. The percentage who reported being uninsured dropped by 5.2 percentage points, the percentage who had difficulty accessing medicine dropped by 2.2 percentage points, and the percentage who lacked a primary-care doctor dropped by 1.8 percentage points.

How do you feel about the results of this study — are you pleased? Disappointed? Surprised? Skeptical? Do you think these improvements will continue, or level off (or even reverse) at some point? Should improvements like these be applauded, or is it more important to point out that millions of Americans still lack insurance coverage and access to affordable care? Do you favor repealing the Affordable Care Act, and if so, what would you replace it with? Leave a comment below!

  • BlesdByFth

    I fully support the repeal of the “Affordable” care act. I am disabled, on Medicare and Disability. My medical costs have increased over the past year. This includes the skyrocketing prices of my medications. I agree that something needs to be in place to help those that do not have coverage, but, the current plan is not it.

  • Tee

    It has been terrible for me and my family. My insurance went up about 800% and now I can not afford it. Now I do not have any insurance. I have to pay out of pocket for everything. It is all very expensive.

  • Al Bbalboni


  • Janet Jacques

    I was really happy when the Medicaid rules changed because a couple of months after I was accepted I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Being on Medicaid means that most of my bills will be paid for. This makes my struggle much easier. I think Obama Care works for me!

  • David

    I had great insurance coverage before Obama Care. Now I have mediocre . Some of my Meds aren”t covered anymore and I am Now on the Generic versions. One of these makes me sick. My co-pays are through the roof, and my insurance coverage is about 35% less than before. My on line prescriptions are null and void since this plan when into affect. Myn girlfriend makes $19,000.00 a year, and has insurance costs of $520.00 per month. her insurance plan is a horror story. So after about $6,240.00 per yr, whats left has to pay for food, co-pays, mortgage and all bills, including Gas for work. Obama care stinks !

  • Jane

    We did not have the greatest coverage to begin with, but now my meds have increased by about 30-60% at this time of year often forcing us to make choices between medications, and at times between groceries and meds. Our co-pays are higher this year too. I hate what Obama care has done to our life. Golden years have become nightmare years for us. Not what we were expecting.

  • Sunflower

    Since “Affordable Health Care” passed, I can no longer see my pulmonary doctor for my sleep apnea. The literature the insurance company sends me is 81/2 by 11 inches and 6 inches tall. What bookcase do I empty to store that?
    It is also printed in 17 languages. And we cannot purchase insurance across state lines. Go figure. I have not needed care out of state yet, but wonder what would happen if I did.

  • Meg Jones

    It has been absolutely no help whatsoever to me. My state (NC) did not extend coverage for uninsured “working poor” people who do not receive any type of benefits from my job despite that I work myself to the bone and even had to be hospitalized for a heart attack quite possibly due to no health care and much stress. I was exempt from the extra penalty last year and I do not qualify for ANYTHING AT ALL. I am very sad and quite disillusioned that I am a very hard working contributing member of society and a tax payer who is basically not eligible for anything and I am certain that I will unfortunately die an early death due to no proper care for some chronic conditions. Basically I am fed up at this point and have come to the conclusion that I do not matter at all. Sad, but very true…

  • Janet Richter

    My medical care has gone downhill since Obamacare. The time I have with my primary care doctor, who is also my diabetes doctor, has gotten shorter with not enough time to discuss care needs for my general health and no
    time to discuss diabetes care. My cancer care has changed from a staff physician to a resident. The appointments to monitor my recurrent sarcoma have gone from every 4 months to 6 months or longer. I now see the surgeon who has done several repair surgeries in the past 5 years for recurrent problems only for 10 minutes when the next surgery is being scheduled and while in the hospital. The rest of my appointments are with the PA. Much of the pre-surgery information I needed for the surgery 2 months ago was never mentioned until during my hospital stay after the surgery was completed and it was the nurses that told me what I should have been told during pre-op work-up. The internist I have seen for almost 20 years is at a smaller clinic while the cancer team and surgical team are at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
    During a recent meeting with four other friends we all shared similar complaints about diminished medical care. It is harder to get appointments, the wait to get the appointments is much longer, more often the appointment is with a PA or NP and the time with the doctor is too short to fully discuss medical concerns. We may have insurance but the premiums and deductibles are so high we might as well not have not have insurance.

  • Elizabeth Sheehy

    You’re in my prayers…Let’s get this ACA sucker amended/repealed!